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B.C. urban mayors ask feds to expand housing affordability, transportation funding

Caucus co-chair Lisa Helps of Victoria outlines list of B.C. requests in letter
The rapid pace of growth in B.C. urban centres like Langford, seen here in 2021 along the Peatt Road corridor, has prompted B.C.’s Urban Mayors Caucus to ask the federal government to consider releasing funds sooner that target projects that improve housing affordability and transportation. (Google Street View)

The B.C. Urban Mayors Caucus has made a pitch to the federal government for more funding help to better deliver housing and transportation projects.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, co-chair of the caucus, wrote on its behalf this month to MP Jennifer O’Connell, parliamentary secretary to Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities Minister Dominic Leblanc. The letter, which followed up a meeting Helps had with O’Connell, laid out a case for the feds to expand their partnership with B.C.’s largest municipalities as a way to see federal programs have even greater impact.

Among the requests the caucus asked government to consider are a permanent doubling of the Canada Community Building Fund (formerly the Gas Tax Fund), which was temporarily accelerated early in the pandemic; the deployment of the Housing Accelerator Fund in provinces and communities where the need is greatest, and the activation now of public transportation funding not scheduled to roll out until 2025.

“Unlocking this funding for our municipalities to access will mean we can more rapidly move forward with opportunities such as new housing along public transportation corridors,” Helps wrote. Doing so, she added, would also help communities achieve their climate action goals and expand housing affordability.

Noting that B.C. has some of the fastest-growing communities in Canada – Langford’s growth of 31.8 per cent between the 2016 and 2021 censuses was third-highest among communities of 5,000 population or more –

Helps stated the province is experiencing “extreme pressures in the area of housing supply and affordability.” The shifting population of more than 100,000 Canadians who came to B.C. in 2021 adds to that pressure, she said.

The letter requested that O’Connell pass along the concerns of B.C.’s largest jurisdictions to Leblanc, and extended an invitation for both to attend one of the bi-weekly meetings of the caucus, or to set up regular quarterly calls for ongoing dialogue and collaboration.

The B.C. Urban Mayors Caucus includes mayors from 13 municipalities representing 55 per cent of the province’s population.

ALSO READ: B.C. urban mayors say they’ve hit their limit on homelessness, disorder


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